Candies & Truffles
It’s the final week of the 12 Weeks of Christmas and I hope that this series of posts gave you some inspiration for your holiday care packages, gifts, parties, and entertaining. I really enjoyed trying out a whole bunch of new recipes and getting the opportunity to remake (and blog!) some tasty recipes from the past. Thanks to Meal Planning Magic for hosting this event – I look forward to participating again next year!
If you missed any of the previous weeks of Christmas treats, check them out:
Cinnamon Sugar Pretzels
Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate (Mix)
New York Style Crumb Cake
Brown Sugar, Pecan & Kahlua Baked Brie
Lemon Cranberry Cake
Cafe Chocolate Cherry Bites (Cookies)
In the above photo, I used 1/4 c. slivered almonds and whole dried cherries. While I enjoyed it, next time I will chop the almonds and cherries and probably add a bit more. I especially loved the tart bite of cherries and wanted more of that!
Cherry Almond Bark
By Books n’ Cooks
Makes a 9×9 in. pan
- 12 oz. chocolate, chopped (I prefer semisweet or bittersweet or a combination of the two, but you can certainly use white chocolate if that’s your favorite)
- 1/4 – 1/2 c. slivered almonds, toasted (chop if desired)
- 1/4 – 1/2 c. dried cherries, whole or chopped
Line a 9×9 in. pan with parchment paper.
In a microwave safe bowl (or a double broiler), heat chocolate at 30-45 second intervals, stirring and heating, until chocolate is melted and smooth. Pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle with toasted almonds and dried cherries. Refrigerate until set. Break into pieces with a sharp knife.
It’s the 9th week of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats, hosted by Meal Planning Magic. I can’t believe it’s so close to Christmas! Where has this year gone?
Unlike several of the recipes I’ve made this year (cinnamon sugar pretzels; pecan, kahlua, and brown sugar baked brie; salted caramel hot chocolate mix; and snickerdoodles), this week’s recipe isn’t a new one for me. I’ve made these bourbon balls a couple of times in the past but it was either before this blog existed, or the candies never survived to be photographed. They’re incredibly rich and if you ask my coworkers, it’s hard to have just one.
Adapted from Fine Cooking No. 89 (p 80)
Makes ~4 dozen
- 1 c. heavy cream
- 1/4 c. bourbon (I used Jim Bean)
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 12 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 8 oz. pecans, toasted and cooled
- 8 oz. plain pound cake (I used store-bought but you can use fresh if you have it on hand)
- 1/2 c. cocoa powder
- 1/4 c. confectioners’ sugar
Make the Ganache: In a small saucepan, bring heavy cream barely to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in bourbon and vanilla. Sprinkle chocolate over hot cream mixture and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
While chocolate is melting, place pecans in a food processor, pulsing until coarsely chopped. Add pound cake and pulse until pecans and pound cake are finely chopped.
Whisk chocolate into cream until mixture is smooth. With the food processor running, slowly pour in chocolate. When pecans, pound cake, and chocolate are thoroughly combined, pour into a bowl and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour.
Make the Bourbon Balls: Just before removing ganache from fridge, line a baking sheet with wax or parchment paper, or set mini cupcake liners on a baking sheet (or serving dish).
Sift together cocoa powder and confectioners’ sugar. Place in a shallow bowl or plate.
Remove ganache from fridge. Using a mini ice cream scoop or two teaspoons, scoop out a tablespoon of mixture. Roll in between your palms to form a ball. Roll in cocoa-sugar mixture and place on prepared baking sheet or in a cupcake liner. Continue until finished with the ganache. (If mixture gets too soft to work with, refrigerate again until firm).
Refrigerate bourbon balls until firm, about 2 hours.
Store: Bourbon balls are best stored in a cool place (fridge or at room temp if it’s not too warm) so that they retain their shape.
Last week, I made the world’s most expensive salad. As I was getting the balsamic vinegar from my cabinet, a glass spice jar fell, and hit the stove top in just the wrong spot. It cracked the glass top, making two burners unusable and making me scared to use the stove or oven at all. All it’ll take is a little water to slip through that crack and I’ll end up electrocuting myself.
The new stove is supposed to arrive this coming Saturday, putting a little bit of a cramp in my Veteran’s weekend baking plans. I had planned to knock out my holiday care packages, sending them early because of our upcoming move. Lucky for me that I had at least one no-bake item on my list – these pretzel s’mores that I discovered through Pinterest. Not only were the s’mores easy to make, they’ve got that amazing salty-sweet combo that I love. Fingers crossed that the recipients of my care packages enjoy them as much as I did!
Looking for more holiday treats? Head over to Meal Planning Magic to see what else bloggers made to celebrate the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats.
Inspired by Love From the Oven
Makes ~3 dozen pretzel s’mores
- 13 oz. bag of pretzels (I used the square waffle ones but use whatever shape you’d like)
- ~18 snack sized chocolate bars (milk chocolate or dark, your choice)
- 1/2 bag of marshmallows (~18 marshmallows)
- 1 1/2 bags candy melts, melted
- sprinkles (if desired)
Note: You may have extra pretzels, marshmallows, and chocolate melts leftover.
Prep: Line a shallow Pyrex (or other microwave safe dish) with wax or parchment paper. In addition, line a baking sheet with wax paper. Set both aside.
Prep the chocolate and marshmallows. Break the mini chocolate bars into 3-4 pieces, depending on the size and shape of your pretzels. Cut the marshmallows into 3 pieces.
Make the S’mores: In the Pyrex dish, place one layer of pretzels, leaving about an inch between each pretzel. Top with a piece of marshmallow and a piece of chocolate. Microwave for 10-20 seconds, until marshmallows puff up a little. Some of the chocolate may also start to melt. Remove from microwave and top with a second pretzel.
Allow pretzels to sit for a minute or two to set. Dip in melted chocolate melts and set on wax paper-lined baking sheet. Top with sprinkles, if desired. Refrigerate for 15-20 minutes (or freeze for less time) until chocolate is set.
Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
I’ve never made Snickerdoodles before, but I’ve always considered them a Christmas cookie. That was the only time I’d ever really come across them, whether it’s at a cookie swap or someone bringing in a plate to work around the holidays. For me who never really had Snickerdoodles before, these cookies pair well with a cup of tea because of their slightly crunchy texture (I’ve never met a Snickerdoodle that was soft, unless it was microwaved) and their subtle cinnamon flavor.
So for you, and for my friend’s this past weekend, I made what I consider to be a Christmas classic. If you’re a blogger and would like to join in the fun, or a reader looking for more Christmas recipes to try, head over to Meal Planning Magic to sign up or peruse the rest of this week’s baking. Happy 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats!
Adapted from Fine Cooking 68 (p. 86)
Makes 3-4 dozen cookies
- 1 c. unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 2/3 oz. all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1/4 tsp. table salt
- 2 tsp. cream of tartar
- 1 1/2 + 1/4 c. granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 Tbs. ground cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a small bowl, combine the 1/4 c. granulated sugar and the cinnamon. Set aside.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and 1 1/2 c. sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 1-2 minutes. Lower speed and add eggs, one at a time, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. When thoroughly combined, sprinkle in baking soda, salt, cream of tartar, and half of the flour. Beat on low speed until combined. Scrape down sides and bottom of the bowl and sprinkle in remaining flour. Beat until combined.
- Scoop out a tablespoon of dough, roll into a ball, roll in cinnamon-sugar, and set on prepared baking sheet. Continue, setting dough 2-3 inches apart on the baking sheet.
- Bake 15-18 minutes, until lightly golden. Allow to rest a few minutes on baking sheet before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.
Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, or in an airtight container in the freezer for up to a month.
It’s been a while since I told you how much I love the recipes published in Fine Cooking magazine. It’s by far, my favorite cooking magazine out there. I’ve had a subscription for several years now and I rarely make a recipe that doesn’t come out as good as I hoped for.
This recipe is an oldie but a goodie. I made it for a couple of our holiday parties, and then again upon request for a friend’s Chrismukkah party. As a hostess, I love them because they can be made up to a month ahead of time and frozen. As a party-goer, I love Kahlua Truffle Triangles because they’re so rich and decadent, making them more like a truffle or candy than a bar cookie.
Want to spoil a loved one? Try these. (And hide a few in the freezer for yourself!)
Kahlua Truffle Triangles
Adapted from Fine Cooking No.82 p. 66
Makes approximately 5 dozen pieces
Ingredients for the Crust*:
- 6-3/4 oz. (1-1/2 c.) all-purpose flour
- 3 oz. (3/4 c.) confectioners’ sugar
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 6 oz. (12 Tbs.) cold, unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, plus more to grease the pan
- 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
* Fine Cooking recommends measuring the ingredients for the crust by weight for best results. However, I included measurements as well, in case you don’t have a kitchen scale.
Ingredients for the Chocolatey Kahlua Goodness:
- 1 lb. semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 3/4 c. whole or 2% milk
- 8 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
- 4 large eggs
- 2/3 c. granulated sugar
- 2-4 Tbs. Kahlua (I use closer to 4 Tbs.)
- Line the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking pan with aluminum foil, allowing the foil to hang over the edge by an inch or two. Lightly butter and set aside.
- With a rack positioned in the center of the oven, preheat oven to 350°F.
- Make the crust: Place flour, confectioners’ sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add butter and vanilla, pulsing until the ingredients are just a bunch of crumbles. Turn dough out into prepared pan. (Do not add water, no matter how much you think it’s too dry.) Spread and press along bottom of the pan (not sides!) into a smooth even layer. The crumbles will press down and come together into a proper shortbread crust. Bake 20-25 minutes, until pale golden. Do not overbake or you will have a hard crust. Transfer to a cooling rack.
- As crust is cooling, lower temperature to 325°F and make the chocolate Kahlua layer.
- Set a medium bowl over simmering water. Melt the chocolate, milk, and butter together, stirring and whisking until smooth. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.
- As the chocolate is cooling, combine eggs, sugar, and Kahlua in a stand mixer on medium-high speed until the color has lightened and mixture is slightly foamy. Reduce speed to low and slowly add in chocolate mixture, scraping down the sides as necessary. Beat for 30-60 seconds until completely combined.
- Pour the chocolate-Kahlua topping over crust in an even layer. Bake 25-30 minutes, until sides are slightly puffy and a toothpick inserted into the center is “wet and gooey but not liquid.” Allow to cool on a wire rack. (Center may sink a little bit – that’s ok. It doesn’t bother me, but if you’d like, while chocolate is still warm, push down on the elevated edges so that they sink to the same level as the center.)
- When completely cool, refrigerate until very cold, at least 12 hours or as much as 2 days.
- An hour or two before serving, remove bars from pan using the handy-dandy aluminum foil overhand. Peal away foil and place on a cutting board. Using a hot knife, slice bars into squares and then diagonally into triangles. Trust me, these are very rich so you want to cut them into triangles. Wipe knife clean, warming if necessary, in between each cut. If the triangles get too soft (as it did for me on this unusually warm spring day), refrigerate another 15 minutes before continue cutting.
When I was a kid, Ben and Jerry’s was all over the place. A special treat, I always got the same thing – chubby hubby ice cream in a cup, no toppings. Vanilla ice cream, peanut butter-filled pretzels, and chocolate swirls. Salty-sweet. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
When I tell friends that Chubby Hubby was my favorite ice cream, most think I’m crazy. They’ve never heard of it, but once I describe it, they get on board pretty quickly. What’s not to like?
I’ve been thinking of chubby hubby-inspired desserts for a while now. (I have a recipe for cookies conjured up in my head, I just haven’t gotten a chance to experiment yet.) When I saw a recipe for Chubby Hubby Truffles, the recipe shot to the top of my list of recipes to try. My hubby and I love the peanut butter balls my mother-in-law makes every Christmas, and I knew we would love Chubby Hubby Truffles just as much. The below recipe is different that the peanut butter balls, but I would absolutely adapt that recipe to do just the same (it just makes a ton of truffles and I really didn’t want to be tempted with that much candy in the house!).
So with the recipe at the top of my list and two birthdays on the horizon, I whipped up a double batch. Hubby and I were not disappointed. In fact, it was a good thing that I photographed the truffles and packaged most of them up before the hubby got home for the night. He was eying the truffles on the kitchen table, looking at me and hoping that I’d give in and let him break into the packages.
Chubby Hubby Truffles
Adapted from Beantown Baker
Makes 18 truffles
- 1/2 c. creamy peanut butter
- 1 Tbs. unsalted butter, very soft
- 2 Tbs. brown sugar
- 3 Tbs. confectioner’s sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1 1/2 c. finely crushed pretzels
- 1/2 bag Wilton candy melts*
* In lieu of candy melts, you can use 1 c. semi-sweet or milk chocolates plus 1 Tbs. shortening.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set on the side.
- In a medium bowl with a wooden spoon, stir together peanut butter, butter, brown sugar, confectioner’s sugar, and salt until thoroughly combined.
- Mix in pretzels, reserving 1-2 Tbs. of pretzels to sprinkle on top (if desired).
- Using a cookie scoop or two teaspoons, portion out peanut butter-pretzel mixture and roll into balls. Place on prepared baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
- Microwave candy melts in a microwave-safe bowl at 30-second intervals until chocolate is melted and smooth.
- Remove the peanut butter-pretzel balls from the fridge. With two forks, coat each with chocolate – rolling to coat completely and allowing extra chocolate to drip off. Place back on parchment-lined baking sheet and sprinkle with a little crushed pretzels. (I sprinkled each truffle as I went, as the chocolate set quickly.)
- Refrigerate another 30 minutes to completely set chocolate before moving to an airtight container to store.
Store in an airtight container at room temperature for as long as you can resist.
This toffee pretzel bark recipe is the third bark that I served at our holiday party last weekend. I love the salty-sweet combo featured in this bark (my mom used to send me chocolate covered pretzels in care packages throughout college). Like the other two barks, this is pretty quick and easy to make, and keeps very well.
The recipe was adapted from My Kitchen Addiction via BrownEyedBaker. The only change I made to the recipe was to increase the amount of white chocolate, as 7 oz. did not quite cover the dark chocolate layer. This change is reflected below.
Toffee Pretzel Bark
Makes 1 1/2 lbs. bark
- 14 oz. dark chocolate chips
- ¾ c. broken pretzel pieces, divided
- ¾ c. Heath toffee pieces, divided
- 9 oz. white chocolate chips
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a double broiler, melt dark chocolate. Stir in 1/2 c. pretzel pieces and toffee. Pour on prepared baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, until chocolate is set.
- When chocolate is set, set up the double broiler again. This time, melt white chocolate. Pour over dark chocolate layer, spreading until even. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 c. pretzel pieces and toffee, pressing the pieces down a little bit so that they stick. Refrigerate for another 30 minutes, until chocolate is set.
- Remove from fridge, and using the tip of a knife or a fork, break into pieces.
Store in an airtight contain in the fridge or at room temperature.
This is the second type of bark that I’ll be serving at this weekend’s holiday party. I’ve tried a bit the three and I think this is my favorite. I love the dark chocolate, the sweet marshmallows, and the crunch of the salted almonds. Not going to lie, I hope there are leftovers of this one!
Rocky Road Bark
Adapted from Bakers Royale
Yields an 8×8 or 9×9 pan
- 10 oz. good dark chocolate chips
- 1 1/2 c. coarsely chopped salted almonds
- 1 1/2 c. mini-marshmallows
- Line a 8×8 or 9×9 pan with parchment or wax paper, letting it hang over the sides a little bit, and set aside.
- Melt chocolate in a double broiler until completely smooth. Stir in chopped almonds and marshmallows. Pour into prepared pan, evening out the top with a spatula.
- Refrigerate until solid, at least an hour. Break into pieces using the tip of a fork or knife, or cut into pieces with a sharp knife.
Our annual holiday party is in a couple weeks, and as usual, I started menu planning, shopping, cooking and baking in late October. I usually serve heavy appetizers and desserts, enough for 30-50 people.
Between hosting several out-of-town relatives for Thanksgiving this year and having a crazy work schedule, I’ve tried to simplify this year’s holiday party just a little bit. Well, maybe I should say, I’ve tried to reduce the time I spend in the kitchen while still putting out an impressive spread. Instead of time-intensive Oreo Truffles and Peanut Butter Balls, I decided that this year, I would do a trio of chocolate bark. Still impressive and tasty, but definitely easier on my time.
This first bark recipe was adapted from Bakers Royale.
The below recipe makes an 8×8 pan, although I doubled (using 1 full package of Oreos) it for the holiday party.
Cookies & Cream Bark
- 10 oz. good white bakers chocolate (coarsely chopped)
- 15 regular Oreos, crushed
- 3 regular Oreos, crushed and set aside for topping
- Line an 8×8 pan with parchment paper, enough for a 1-in. overhang on all sides. Set aside.
- Melt chocolate in a double broiler, stirring regularly until all chocolate has been melted and chocolate is smooth. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
- Add crushed Oreos, stirring to combine. Pour into prepared pan. Use a spatula to even out chocolate. Sprinkle with remaining 3 crushed Oreos. (This is optional, but if you don’t, your bark will have a slightly greyish color from the Oreo crumbs mixing with the white chocolate.)
- Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or until chocolate has set.
- Remove pan from fridge and with either end of the parchment paper, lift bark out of pan and onto counter.
- Break into pieces, using a fork to assist if needed. Or, for a cleaner look, cut with a knife.
Store in the fridge or at room temperature until ready to serve.
This is a big year for many of my friends – the bit 3-0. Everyone is choosing a different way to celebrate. We had a ladies weekend at the spa for the first 30th birthday of the year, enjoying massages, pedicures, wraps, and the like for one friend’s birthday. For the second and most recent birthday, another friend hosted a birthday BBQ and asked K and I to bake her cupcakes. We were excited to provide dessert for the BBQ and the three of us made a night out of baking. We had a great night munching on a tomato-mozzarella tartlet, drinking limoncello cosmopolitans (had to beg a neighbor for ice), and baking up a storm. For the celebration, we made Cosmo Cupcakes and Lemon-Limoncello Cupcakes or what K’s friend fondly dubbed “boozecakes.”
In the spirit of “go big or go home,” I decided to garnish my Limoncello Cupcakes with slices of candied lemon. These sweets were easy to make, but did take a while. It took about two days before the syrup to dry enough for me to handle them. Completely worth it. Like any good cook, I had to try the lemon slices before serving… again and again and again. They’re very sweet, with a slightly stronger taste in the candied rind, and set on top of a cupcake, make a striking presentation. Not going to lie, I was also eating the leftover lemon syrup with a spoon (but would probably be a great addition to a hot or sweet tea or mixed drink).
Candied Lemon Slices
Adapted from Use Real Butter
Makes 1-3 dozen slices
- 1-3 lemons
- 2 c. sugar
Cut lemons into thin slices, about 1/8 inch thick, 10-12 slices per lemon. If the slices tear easily, they’re too thin.
In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil. While waiting for the water to boil, prepare an ice bath and set aside. When water is boiling, blanch lemons for 1 minute. Remove with a strainer and plunge into ice bath to stop the cooking.
In another medium saucepan (or the one you just used) over medium heat, bring 1 c. water and the sugar to a boil. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Lower to a simmer and add lemon slices. Simmer for 1-2 hours (I did about 90 minutes).
As water boils, set a wire cooling rack over a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
With a set of tongs, remove slices from syrup, allowing excess sugar to drop off, and set on a wire rack to dry. This may take up to 48 hours.